FORT MYERS BEACH, Fla. — Sunflower Cafe in Fort Myers Beach was just buzzing with holiday cheer as nearly every seat was filled with friends and family enjoying a Christmas meal together. Restaurant goers expressed their gratitude for the cafe’s decision to open its doors during this holiday.
"So happy they're here and that they're open," exclaimed one delighted patron. “It’s just a wonderful day here with family and friends,” another patron added.
The Sunflower Cafe, a family-owned restaurant, has maintained a tradition for 28 years by remaining open on Christmas Day. Leiann Pietras, the cafe's manager, shared the joy seeing people come together on Christmas.
"Seeing all of our locals and even people who are here on vacation being able to come and celebrate together - just everyone being happy - and being open so people have somewhere to go. It's really just a joy, and it's amazing," said Pietras.
This sense of community is what makes Sunflower Cafe more than just a restaurant— Pietras says when people walk through the doors they’re family.
"We have people who come and join other families - they don't even know each other, but we just didn't have enough room or whatever it is - and they came and sat with each other. So then, people are getting to know people and branching out," Pietras shared.
Moreover, In the true spirit of giving back during the holidays, Petra’s says Sunflower Cafe extends its warmth to those in need.
"We had homeless people that came in. So, instead of us giving them their check, we would actually buy their meal for them because we don't want anybody to leave here hungry," Pietras explained.
As patrons raised their glasses in a "Merry Christmas" toast, the sentiment echoed throughout the cafe: "For everyone out there - have a great Christmas!"